Eyes open verses eyes closed meditation

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Eyes open verses eyes closed meditation

Postby Greg_the_poet » Wed May 30, 2012 10:50 pm

Why is it in some traditions, mainly the Theravada traditions meditate with eyes closed and most mahayana traditions meditate with eyes open? Was this just a naturally evolving thing as Buddhism went along?
I myself am practicing (Or attempting to practice) Zen which is quite strict on eyes open. When I do it at home I must admit I do sneakily close my eyes sometimes cos I like it. It got quite bad for a time that I even considered moving traditions, but I can't, cos Theravada isn't my cup of tea, neither is Tibetan Buddhism, though I have respect for them nonetheless.
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Re: Eyes open verses eyes closed meditation

Postby Lhug-Pa » Wed May 30, 2012 10:57 pm

Eyes closed meditation seems to be like sitting Dream Yoga i.e. the physical body goes to sleep yet the Consciousness awakens to the inner dimensions.

But in Dzogchen, generally the practice is to integrate during the day with eyes open, and to integrate with the experiences of the inner dimensions at night when going to bed.

I would imagine that for one who is fully integrated, there would always be a simultaneous awareness of the physical and non-physical dimensions.
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Re: Eyes open verses eyes closed meditation

Postby Greg_the_poet » Wed May 30, 2012 11:05 pm

So what you're saying is pretty much that eyes closed meditation is just like going to sleep and having a lucid dream?
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Re: Eyes open verses eyes closed meditation

Postby kirtu » Wed May 30, 2012 11:10 pm

Greg_the_poet wrote:Why is it in some traditions, mainly the Theravada traditions meditate with eyes closed and most mahayana traditions meditate with eyes open? Was this just a naturally evolving thing as Buddhism went along?
I myself am practicing (Or attempting to practice) Zen which is quite strict on eyes open. When I do it at home I must admit I do sneakily close my eyes sometimes cos I like it. It got quite bad for a time that I even considered moving traditions, but I can't, cos Theravada isn't my cup of tea, neither is Tibetan Buddhism, though I have respect for them nonetheless.


Therevada seems to use the arising, abiding and passing away of sensations as the primary method of vispassana.
Zen teaching says generally that people keeps eyes open in order not to fall asleep but also to keep too much ki from building up as a result of meditating on the hara (although I don't remember the last time I heard this explanation).
I haven't heard non-Zen Mahayana address this. Vajrayana gets their instructions from Indian sources and basically just follows them however those basic instructions are not really correct (I don't remember where these basic meditation instructions come from - they have been read to me at least twice and I've read the source previously too - pretty much Tibetan sources insist that you shouldn't blink).

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“All beings are Buddhas, but obscured by incidental stains. When those have been removed, there is Buddhahood.”
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Re: Eyes open verses eyes closed meditation

Postby Lhug-Pa » Wed May 30, 2012 11:17 pm

Well 'lucid dream' is defined in many different ways. But more technically, it is said that when we are meditating correctly (we've at least begun to stabilize Shamatha & Vipassana) with eyes closed, eventually the mental body mentioned in the Dream Yoga teachings can be made use of, and even beyond.

Of course there are other reasons for and benefits of meditating; such as meditating on the Four Immeasurables, the Twelve Links of Interdependent Origination, etc.

But as was said, in Dzogchen and Vajrayana the teaching is that instead of closing our eyes to the physical five senses, we integrate everything. So 'eyes closed meditation' is usually only done at bedtime known as Dream Yoga or the Practice of the Night.

*Edit*

Oh and I forgot to add that in Vajrayana practices where visualization is involved, depending on the specific practice it is okay to close our eyes at times if it makes visualizing easier.
Last edited by Lhug-Pa on Wed May 30, 2012 11:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Eyes open verses eyes closed meditation

Postby Bonsai Doug » Wed May 30, 2012 11:55 pm

kirtu wrote:Zen teaching says generally that people keeps eyes open in order not to fall asleep

And let's not forget the "big stick" if you do! (Just kidding!)

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Now having obtained a precious human body,
I do not have the luxury of remaining on a distracted path.

~ Tibetan Book of the Dead
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Re: Eyes open verses eyes closed meditation

Postby kirtu » Thu May 31, 2012 12:29 am

Bonsai Doug wrote:
kirtu wrote:Zen teaching says generally that people keeps eyes open in order not to fall asleep

And let's not forget the "big stick" if you do! (Just kidding!)

Image


I always liked the stick. :twothumbsup:

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“All beings are Buddhas, but obscured by incidental stains. When those have been removed, there is Buddhahood.”
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Re: Eyes open verses eyes closed meditation

Postby oldbob » Fri Jun 01, 2012 3:57 am

Whatever turns the Wheel.
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Re: Eyes open verses eyes closed meditation

Postby Spirituality » Fri Jun 01, 2012 8:23 am

In Tibetan Buddhism the advice is to have the eyes half closed if you can, closed of that feels best , open if that feels best. I personally alternate. When you get drowsy open them and move the head up, if your mind is too active, close the eyes and lower the head. In short: the eyes are one of the tools to use to get your mind in the right in between attitude.

I'd advise just doing it as feels right at home and practice at meditating with the eyes open at the center. And don't feel guilty about it! You're a lay person meditating, you're doing well!
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